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Augusta Commission District 7 candidates' voting records analyzed

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 11:38pm


They want your vote today, but three candidates seeking the District 7 commission post don’t always go to the polls themselves.

The Augusta Chronicle looked into the voting records of interim Commissioner Louis “Hap” Harris, retired mortgage banker Sonny Pittman and charity Development Director Sean Frantom going back to 2000.

The records, which don’t specify how someone votes but whether they participate, revealed Harris voted 88 percent of the time, missing the fewest – five elections – of 40 opportunities.

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VA program to resolve health care delays not effective, reports find

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 11:26pm


A Department of Veterans Affairs program started in November to resolve nationwide delays in care lacks consistent guidelines and effective management, including in Augusta, where more than 1,700 patients wait longer than a month for appointments, reports show.

A report the Veterans of Foreign Wars delivered to Congress this month found just 19 percent of veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or had to wait more than 30 days for an appointment have been offered “Choice Cards” to receive care from private doctors.

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Columbia County voters to consider renewing education sales tax

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 10:41pm


Columbia County voters will have one issue before them on the ballot in today’s special election: whether to renew the countywide 1 cent sales tax to support schools.

If approved, the education special purpose local option sales tax referendum will renew collection of the tax starting in 2017, with the expectation that it will fund about $140 million in improvements and additions to Columbia County’s rapidly growing school system.

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Turnout expected to be light in Augusta Commission District 7 race

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 10:34pm


Turnout will be key, but likely still very low in today’s special election to fill an unexpired District 7 term on the Augusta Commission.

Only 113 voters, fewer than 1 percent, of the district’s approximately 14,557 registered voters cast early ballots during 15 days of advance voting at the municipal building.

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Man pleads guilty in friend's shooting

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 9:49pm


An Augusta man accused of shooting a friend’s ear opted to plead guilty Monday instead of pressing ahead with a jury trial.

Dominique D. Ellis, 27, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to terroristic threats and a weapons charge in exchange for a sentence of three years in prison followed by seven years on probation.

Ellis had only been out of prison for eight months when he got into an argument with Jacquail Albright and shot him the morning of Nov. 29.

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Murder trial for Augusta teen Jeremiah Kelly set to begin

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 9:35pm


A jury will begin hearing testimony Tuesday in the trial of an Augusta teen accused of murder.

Jeremiah E. Kelly has pleaded not guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to charges of murder, aggravated assault and weapon violations.

Kelly was 15 and William H. Clark was 16 when they were arrested in the Aug. 3, 2012, fatal shooting of Anthony Dewayne King, 30.

Two people with King when he was shot in the chest said two young men armed with weapons advanced on King’s vehicle, a Cadillac Escalade, that night on Crawford Avenue.

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Aiken man arrested on child pornography charges

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 8:12pm


An Aiken man was arrested on child pornography charges Friday after investigators say he distributed materials via file sharing.

According to a statement from the office of South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, Brizbon McCamey Chapman has been charged with five counts of second-degree felony sexual exploitation of a minor, which is punishable by up to 10 years of prison per count. He was also charged with 10 counts of third-degree felony sexual exploitation of a minor third degree, which carries a similar punishment.

His bond has been set at $150,000.

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Whistleblower in former commissioner Donnie Smith's investigation suspended three days without pay

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 8:09pm

A primary whistleblower in the investigation of former Georgia State Patrol Lt. Donnie Smith was suspended for three days without pay for engaging in explicit, lengthy phone conversations with other troopers.

Christy Hester accused Smith, who resigned his seat on the Augusta Commission in September, of making inappropriate sexual comments and advances. She also was the recipient of a state-owned bed Smith misappropriated for her, according to a 1,374-page investigative file released last week.

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Rescue crews save stranded kayaker from Savannah River

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 5:34pm


A kayaker stranded on rocks on the Savannah River has been rescued by crews from Richmond and Aiken counties, officials said.

About 3:12 p.m., the North Augusta Department of Public Safety received a call about the kayaker, whose boat was wedged among some rocks about a quarter-mile north of Shoals Way Court in North Augusta.

Lt. Tim Thornton said the woman and a man were swept into heavy currents and shallow water after leaving from Savannah Rapids Pavilion in single kayaks.

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Masters champ Watson staying mum on Champions Dinner menu

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 5:24pm


Bubba Watson finally revealed his Champions Dinner menu for his green-jacketed peers.

“We are definitely going to have food,” Watson promised Monday in a teleconference with Augusta National Golf Club announcing his promotional trip to New York next week on behalf of the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

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Energy assistance funds now available

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 4:31pm


Federal energy assistance funding for elderly and low-income residents that has been delayed for nearly four months has been released and should be credited to accounts by this week.

The CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority, which distributes the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to local residents, began mailing checks to energy companies last week, and they should be credited to accounts promptly, according to EOA energy coordinator Patricia Johnson.

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Credit card scammer pleads guilty

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 4:28pm

A man who found a way to steal money by using stolen credit cards numbers pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court.

Derrick Winn, 37, entered a guilty plea to one count of a six-count indictment, admitting he used an access device to illegally obtain money in February 2014. The crime is punishable by as much as 10 years in prison.

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Funeral set for Tuesday in Edgefield fire that claimed three

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 4:23pm


Funeral services will be held Tuesday for a mother and her two toddlers who died last week in a fire in Edgefield County.

Laterrious Shantrell Watkins, 24, daughter Aubrey McKie, 2, and son Jacob McKie Jr., 1, were killed in the mobile home fire at 301 Country Club Road on Wednesday.

The funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Ridge Spring Civic Center at 900 West Main St.

The Edgefield County Coroner’s Office said the cause of death was smoke inhalation and burns.

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Daniel Field to sell vintage glass from hangar doors

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 4:22pm

Daniel Field is looking to make money from the 1940s-era glass in its hangar doors, which are being refurbished using the special sales tax for transportation projects.

The project started about a month ago to refurbish the hangar doors, which are about 75 years old, said Becky Shealy, the vice president of business development for Au­gus­ta Aviation, which operates Daniel Field. It should be complete in July.

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Augusta's Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center to hold town hall meeting

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 4:18pm


The Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center will host a town hall meeting next Monday in Augusta to discuss health-care programs, eligibility and benefits with local veterans.

The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. at American Legion Post 205 on Highland Avenue.

Congressional representatives will be on hand to coordinate information and assistance efforts for veterans, the hospital said in a news release.

For more information please contact Pete Scovill, Public Affairs Officer, 706-733-0188, Ext. 1733 or


Man, 86, charged with murder

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 2:54pm


An 86-year-old man has been charged with murder after his release from a local hospital.

John Dickey Obryant, who has been booked Monday into the Richmond County jail, was also charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Police responded to a call at a house on 2625 Leland Drive where Obryant was living around 2:20 p.m. Saturday in response to shots fired.

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Ga. House extends suits for child-sex victims

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 11:27am



ATLANTA – Adults would get two years to sue people they allege sexually abused them as children even though the statute of limitations had already expired under legislation now pending in the Senate.

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DSM's Augusta facility included in spinoff

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 11:24am

Augusta’s DSM facility will fall under new ownership later this year.

Dutch-based chemical and nutrition company Royal DSM announced a partnership Monday with a global equity firm, CVC Capital Partners, to take a majority stake of a spinoff company that will control its polymer and resin business.

CVC will own 65 percent of the new company, which will make caprolactam, acrylonitrile and composite resins, leaving DSM with a minority 35 percent stake. The new company, tentatively called NewCo, will have nearly 2,000 employees.

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St. Patrick's Day events

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 9:28am

TUESDAY’S MUSIC LIVE: CELTIC DUO, DANA & KYLE: Noon Tuesday, March 17, St. Paul’s Church, 605 Reynolds St.; concert free; lunch catered by Sleeping Bear Kitchen (online reservations required for lunch); free concert, lunch $10;

ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE: 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, March 17; Telfair, 11th, Broad and Sixth streets, downtown Augusta; with Bob Cashin, grand marshal; presented by the Irish-American Heritage Society;

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Ga. teens die when vehicle overturns in creek

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 8:27am

CLEVELAND, Ga. — Authorities say two teenagers from White County are dead after a vehicle overturned in a creek west of the north Georgia town of Cleveland.

Richard Corn of Gainesville’s Georgia State Patrol office said 18-year-old Taylor Scott Swing of Cleveland, Georgia, was driving the vehicle as it left Gene Nix Road, went off a large bank and overturned in Town Creek on Sunday.

The Times of Gainesville reports ( that a 16-year-old White County girl was also killed in the one-vehicle crash.

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